lördag 19 maj 2012

The Three Tigers from Suphan (สามเสือสุพรรณ, 1981)




The influence of westerns, both American and European, is hard to deny when watching Thai action movies. Most countries have tried their hands one this very American genre, but except Italy few have succeeded. What's interesting with the Thai westerns is that they never pretend to be set in the US. They still keep Thai traditions, environments, religion and music (well, not always - how many times have Morricone's music been "borrowed" for Thai movies really?) but still manages to sneak in lone gunslingers, bandits, thrilling duels and bar fights? Wisit Sasanatieng's masterpiece from the year 2000, Tears of the Black Tiger both celebrated and poked fun at Thai westerns - but it's mostly a loving tribute to the past of Thai cinema (going so far with casting Sombat Metanee as the bad guy, a brilliant choice). The Three Tigers from Suphan is supposedly based on a true story, but I don't know so much about it. So don't ask me.

The story revolves around a band of thieves and criminals, bandits, dressed identical uniforms and cowboy hats - only in black of course. They call themselves "The Black Panthers", and they steal from the rich and give to the poor (I think). Most of the story is centred around three of them, one of them played by Thai movie stalwart Sorapong Chatree. But the group, led by en elderly man, seem to lose focus on their moral and some of the members starts to give themselves little treats - for example attack innocent villagers, stealing and raping. This is not the only problem of course, because the police is near and wants to stop them once and for all!

I saw a bootleg-version, ripped from TV. So I guess this is a bit shorter than the supposed to be. The story goes very fast sometimes and I'm not sure about the exact storyline because of this (the one above is just a guessing, because as usual there's no subs). It's still an pretty engaging movie with one big action sequence, the money shot of the movie: a very spectacular ambush of a train, filled with nice stunts and a high body count - and one juicy chopped of arm by sword! I'm not sure who they're attacking, but it almost looks like a Japanese army or something!

The rest of the movie has some shoot-outs and fistfights, but the train-sequence is very hard to beat when it comes to action here. Because of the quality of the DVD it's hard to say what the budget was, but somewhere behind that lousy VHS-quality it looks like a quite expensive and ambitious movie. I mean, if they can afford squibs it's usually a bit more money in the bank. One sub story is quite interesting and I wish I had could understand the dialogue. One of the three tigers keeps contact with his wife and mother, and the drama around this is good and gives some depth to the bandits. Because usually it's hard to keep an interest in criminals who have no strong motive for robbing people - but I'm sure that would be much clearer with subs.

Yeah, I know.  A pretty pointless review of a movie I could understand to 50 %. But because there not other English info someone needs to write something. Please correct me if you feel that the storyline is way wrong and if there's something more I should add about the movie or the history behind it. 

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